Cycle Tour Tour in the Alps 2013
Dag 6: Grainau
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Added on 25 Aug 2013
on 22 Jan 2014
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by Ottocolor on 18 Nov 2013
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Grainau, Bayern, DE (721 m NHN)
Grainau, Bayern, DE (721 m NHN)
04 Aug 2013
In the morning sunny and somewhat cooler. In the afternoon a thunder shower. After that sunny again and again fairly hot.
Camping Erlebnis Zugspitze
Griesener Straße 2
Throughout the village of Obergrainau on quiet roads, then a beautiful paved bike path in a separate layout, the last stretch up to Eibsee on a busy road, but most cars coming towards us. Because of the increase (8-10%) somewhat difficult to control. Bike ride around Eibsee (just me) on good gravel paths. The same downward route. Car road down to Obergrainau completely empty, so I reached a record high speed of the bike. Over 72 km/h!
Sources of information
Kompass bike- and mountainbike map No. 3127 "Fuessen Garmisch-Partenkirchen Ammergauer Alpen Lechtal" 1:70,000
A map from the reception of the camp site.
Rest day in the Alps. The morning was spent on the camp site, in the afternoon a trip to Germany's highest mountain of Zugspitze.
Already in the tent, well, even before I opened my eyes, I sensed that the rain had stopped and the sun was out again. It buzzed with life around us from the other tents, and it were pleasant sounds and none of the panicky activities that rain always exposes tent people to. Nowhere is the difference in athmosphere between sunshine and rain bigger as on a tent site. So I lay still for a short time and was pleased to be on my bike holiday (with stress on the holiday part of the word) and that Simon and I had a great day ahead of us. Today we were to "climb" Germany's highest mountain Zugspitze, and it was to be both the literal and spoken highlight of the entire Alpine tour. But for now life was just enjoyed in camping speed. That means no hurry. In addition, it was Sunday, so why not respect the rest day? And in Germany Sunday is more Sunday than in Denmark. I was to regret that a little later, for all the shops are closed on Sundays, so the fine shopping center with several supermarkets and a bakery opposite the campsite was completely dead today. And we had not supplied for breakfast. And this strange campground had only a container as reception and you could definitely not buy anything edible there. So I (again) mounted my iron horse and cycled into Garmisch. There would be a bakery and a petrol station, I was told by the rather strict camping mummy in the container. "These stupid Danes", she very well may have thought. You should know that the shops are closed on Sundays, so I was just badly prepared. Then there was only one table and benches on the whole tent site, so I anticipated a little struggle for seated places for breakfast. Now a German man and his son, who were on a motorcycle vacation, occupied the whole table. He loved maps, which filled the whole table, so he seemed like an interesting acquaintance. It later turned out to be right.
The trip to Garmisch was pleasant enough, although it's never QUITE nice to cycle without coffee and breakfast in the stomach, but the weather was glorious. Sunshine, but not nearly as hot and sultry as the day before. I cycled past a large American barracks and quickly found a bakery and petrol station and got provisioned for breakfast and lunch package. But the prices were much higher than in the supermarket. Well, it got to be. This trip was already about to blow my budget. And today waas going to be awfully expensive anyway so expensive breakfast was just the beginning. Back at the campground Simon had come to life. He is a notorious sleepyhead in the morning, but all in all he managed fine on the trip. But, as everybody knows, it quickly grows very hot in a tent, so he enjoys also to get out of the bag and up to a laid out breakfast table. Fortunately, the German motorcyclists were mighty nice and let us get a seat at the table. All the other tent guests did apparently fine without any. It seems that only when you come up a bit in the years you appreciate even the slightest comfort like sitting on a bench and eating from a table. It stood just behind the reception container and we could follow, when there was a vacancy there. I had to pay the exorbitant camping fee, you know. So far we sat, however, fo long and ate and talked with the Germans. Here was something as rare as a German who spoke excellent English, and Simon enjoyed it. He is, after all, much better at English than German. They were from Lörrach near Basel and were on the trip cross a series of mountainpasses. The man had a whole book about famous Alpine passes, and Hochtannbergpass, which Simon and I would pass on the bike, also featured and he offered me to copy the page on the copying machine inside the container. Thank you. We talked a lot of typical camping tent-talk, as one does when one belongs to the vulnerable group of campers. The misery with the lacking gas cylinder was also debated, and in the ended the man gave us a gas cylinder with thread that matched my new cooker. Fantastic ! Now there was enough gas for the whole trip.
After the slow breakfast it was time for doing some laundry and otherwise plain relaxing at the campsite. We had also to dry the things that had turned wet in the thunderstorm the night before. Or I had to. Simon lay down to read in the sun next to the tent on his mat. Luckily I could borrow a special camping washing line of the German motorcyclist and span it between two trees. It didn't need any pegs but had rings to fasten the items of clothing between. The washing machine was in the same room where I had cooked the night before and did, of course, not work. But by using my cell phone I summoned camp daddy, who helped me bring the machine to life. In return, I gave him the rest of my washing powder, I had purchased at the petrol station. There was also a drying rack. It was all brand new, but so much was missing at the campsite. That's what I said to him and was told that they had just bought the place and were about to expand it into a super - luxury site with everytthing in place. This was the case already in the camping fee, I allowed myself to notice. And they could have waited to take full price, when there was full service. The chewed a little on that, I think. But I must have done it right, because we were given special treatment and allowed to cool our food in the refrigerator of the reception. Which otherwise was strictly only for the staff. One must treat the Germans with great care. Otherwise, you get zero service. In this way, I was helped with washing and drying, had my food cooled and got a lot of information about the upcoming visit of the Zugspitze. I had also a little walk on the campsite, which the river Loisach runs around in an arc. It is a beautiful mountain river that springs off the rocks, but much smaller than the Isar yesterday. There were fine views towards the mountains to the south, and the Zugspitze towered in the sun. Simon and I agreed to have lunch at the campsite and then ride off to Eibsee, from where we could take both a train and a cable car up to the Zugspitze.
It had otherwise been a perfect day, but after lunch, which always consisted of buttered sandwiches from our lunch boxes, a lot of clouds gathered over the mountains, and we could also hear thunder. So far no rain. So we biked off the few kilometers to Eibsee and hoped it stayed dry. Still on the main road, I had a small crash and suddenly lay on the tarmac. I had been inattentive at a kerb. But luckily, nothing happened, and we were soon on the small roads through Schmölz and Upper Grainau. So far there was no gradient, but after the onion domed church began a nice bike path, which went quite steeply upwards. When it ended at the car road to Eibsee, a rain shower came down, and we waited a while under a tree along with other cyclists. Traffic on the road was busy, but almost all cars came down the mountain. They had all been at the top in the morning, and now I regretted that we had spent so much time at the campsite. The gradients were 8 to 10 percent, so it cost really a lot of effort to cycle up to Eibsee, although we had no luggage on the bikes. But with a few breaks to catch our breath and get the puls just slightly down, we made it. Simon always used to run from me on the steep hills, but this time he had underestimated the distance up to the little station, so I actually came in first. But then it must fairly be said, my lowest gear is somewhat lower than Simon's. This I would probably not have been able to pedal. So there was a little competition between us, but it was the only place where we battled a little. Everywhere else Simon won clearly without any battle.
When we had caught our breath, I approached the ticket counter at the train station, but got a rather dismissive message. The last train had gone up already and the cable car was now suspended because of thunderstorms. I looked up and found that the sky brightened, and the lady also felt that we probably would go up. We rolled the short stretch down to the cable car's lower station and parked the bikes. It was quite empty in the large waiting room, so we were apparently the only ones who tried to go up. It was only three, so it was not late. But then everything went very fast and we were let into one of the gondolas. We had it all to ourselves, which we enjoyed. In the morning it had definetely been crammed and a long queue first, so we did get a little out of being so late. On the way up we could see a lot of clouds in the valley. They continually thinned out, so the weather was clearly improving. I liked the view of Eibsee, an emerald green mountain lake From above it has the shape of a bird with a beak and spiky tail feathers. Later I would even cycling around it. There was a guide in the gondola, whom I asked about the origin of the name Zugspitze. It has nothing to with 'train' ("Zug" in German). I guess, if the mountain was called so long before there was built a train track up its north flank. Nor does it associate to 'drag' (in chess, for example 'a move' is 'ein Zug'). And still. Because it means the top from where avalanches 'move', that is rattling down to the valley. Now you know that!
After approx. a fifteen minute trip up the cable car, we arrived at Zugspitze's top station, which is a building with several floors, which completely occupies the middle of the mountain's three peaks. You could also say it totally ruins the mountain. No high alpine atmosphere with all the modern stairways, elevators, souvenir shops etc. But it makes it, of couse, easy to get up on the roof terrace and go to the railing. Here, you look out over a stunning Alpine panorama of mountains and glaciers as far as the eye can see. It didn't look very far now, as there were still many clouds, which up here are not upwards, but just as much downwards. But it still brightened up, and the sun came out again. The temperature was cool, and Simon and I were glad we had put a long-sleeved shirt and long pants on! I wore my good bike jacket too, so I was fine. Simon also had his rain jacket on, which is my old racing rain jacket. It shines in luminous yellow, so he was easy to keep an eye on. But Simon has lightly fear of heights, so I was not worried that he was going to climb over the railing and into the wilderness. Most interesting was what happened at the eastern end of the viewing platform. Here we could see how a small group of climbers were about to attach themselves to a so-called via ferrata, an 'iron path', ie an iron wire, stretched out over the rocks by eye bolts. It obviously led up to the eastern peak, which fortunately has no buildings, except for a large golden cross right on the top. Every time a climber would pass an eye bolt, he had to loosen one of the snap hooks on his two wires and move it over to the other side of the bolt. Then, the same could happen with the other wire, he had secured himself with. In this way, he was always secured with at least one wire. It seemed to me an infinitely tedious and slow way of climbing, for there were many eye bolts, the man had to pass, before he had reached the top. The gate to the 'iron path' was on the floor below us, and I kept a close eye on it for now a man crept out on it without any mountaineer's equipment, west and wires. He effortlessly climbed down an iron ladder, then held on to the wire and climbed up another iron stairs before he disappeared behind the mountain top. Wow! I wanted to try the same, but Simon had no intention. He thought it would be too dangerous, and I had probably agreed with him, if I had not just seen a man do it without equipment. He was even in shorts and sandals while I, to the least, wore long pants and running shoes. So I went down the stairs and out on the northern gallery that led to the gate next to the 'iron path'. I thought there was probably a sign that demanded equipment and that the man had just ignored it. I was not certain I'd do it too, but there was no sign nor any official-looking person. So I climbed quite boldly out and down and up the iron ladders. When I passed to the other side of the mountain top and could not see Simon nor be seen by him, it was a little creepy, but soon the golden cross on the top showed, and I saw the man who had climbed up there alone. It turned out to be an American, and we were a little proud we were so brave to have climbed up there. I waved over to Simon on the rooftop. He was easy to spot. The American whom I've forgotten the name of, and I took pictures of each other close to the cross. We were on the very summit! Later he said: "Thanks for summitting with me." That was nice to hear. He could've hoped to have all the glory for himself. But I think we used each other to legitimize our presence on the mountain top to our families on the viewing platform, he to his wife and small child, I to Simon. But soon we were, in our views, safely back with them all. It was fun to stand here and look at the top from here. It is a little higher than the terrace, we were on now, that's why the cross is over there and not here, but I did not tell Simon. Now it was clearing up almost completely, and you could see really far now. We moved further west, looking now at a plateau called Zugspitzplatt, a glacier, where you can ski all summer and the peak of Schneefernerkopf. There blew a cloud off its top so the mountain looked like a volcano with smoke. We were now near the Austrian part of Zugspitze. The boundary runs on the mountain top, so the westernmost of the three peaks is located in Austria. There are in fact many mountain tops, where the border runs on the top. Thus, the summit of the highest mountain of the Alps, and perhaps Europe, depending on how you define the boundaries of our continent, Mont Blanc is 'shared ' between France and Italy. Here a sign said, "Willkommen in Tirol" in front of the ugly covered glass corridor to the Austrians' viewing platform. What have they done to nature up here, you wonder. One place there was an ascension spot for mountaineers, and here there was a sign saying that you could only leave the platform with mountaineering equipment and only as an experienced alpinist. So here I obviously stayed up with Simon! After a short visit in Austria, mostly out of curiosity, we were soon back on the German side again, where a sign with the words 'Free State of Bavaria' welcomed. Germany and Austria are represented by their regional provinces here. Well, Simon and I left Austria with no hurry for now and got in line for the cable car down. It was the last of the day and we did not want to stay up in the cold for the night. You could also have taken a cable car down on the Austrian side, but then we had ended up in Ehrwald and had a lot of trouble to get back to our bikes at Eibsee station. On the way down in the cable car I talked to the American from the top and his wife. He was a real outdoor man and admired hikers on the trail that also leads to the top of the Zugspitze. We floated easily over it. Here he could well have hiked up, had it not been for his wife and child. In that way he had obviously saved the exorbitant price, the cable car company charges to transport you up and down the mountain, but it had been a long and tough trip. Especially down. I told him about a book by my favourite American author Bill Bryson. It tells about his and his limp buddy Stephen Katz' remarkable hike along the long-distance Appalachian Trail in the eastern United States. It's called "A Walk in the Woods". Hilariously funny and at the same time immensely informative, like all of Bill Bryson's books. Let it thus be recommended to anyone who likes lenghty walks in remote areas. I prefer lengthy bike rides, so it was definetely a great pleasure to sit in the saddle on the bike again, which waited faithfully by the Eibsee station.
Now Simon and I could not agree on what to do now, so our ways parted for a few hours. Simon wanted to cycle straight back to the campsite and lie down reading while I wanted to cycle around the Eibsee lake, the lake that had looked like a bird up from the cable car. The weather was in fact absolutely wonderful now. Quiet and deep sunshine and pleasantly warm again down here after the cold mountain top. Simon looked forward to the bike ride DOWN the mountain. I warned him about going TOO quickly, because it was bound to be a wild descent, though not very long. I was not nervous that he could not find the campsite, because he has proven before, he's good at keeping his bearings and could well remember the rather simple way back, so we said goodbye and 'see you later'.
So I biked across the immense parking lot to the lake shore, which here was busy with boathouses and cafes. But it was a beautiful shore and not nearly as fizzle classy, as feared. There were many families with children on the path, and all the little beaches were occupied by a lot of people. I also fancied a swim in the lake, but preferred a little forest solitude, so I cycled further along the lake's southern shore. I knew there was a gravel bike path around the lake, so there was no hurry to find a suitable bathing place. At one point I came to the infinitely beautiful Frillensee, located right inside the forest. The sun shone down through the trees and the mountains rose behind it. But it was only birds that could swim in it, as it was quite muddy. So I continued around the lake. After a fairly steep climb I soon was perched above the lake. The northern shore was far less visited than the south, although this was where the sun was shining right into. Perfect, and I found a quiet cove where I bathed in 'my birthday suit', as one says in English. After the bath in the warm, but deep lake, a mother duck with her ducklings came waddling onto my beach. Idyll in a tranquil woodland setting, one could say. From my place on the lakeshore, I could see the mountain landscape also the Zugspitze with cable car top station. The cross on the summit I could not, however, discern, even in binoculars. But then I remembered that I had also not been able to see the lake from the top, so it was logical enough. Now I didn't want to leave Simon alone anymore and I also slowly grew hungry. I had also about ten miles down to the campsite, but these were the easiest ten kilometers I had ever cycled. First, I packed my things on the lake shore, then the last bit around the lake, over a romantic bridge across the 'bird's tail feathers' and out on the car road. It was thankfully nicely empty now, so there were no cars, one had to be careful about going down the insanely steep road. First there were some sharp corners, but then came a perfectly straight stretch where I let the bike roll. 72 km/h was the top speed according to my bike computer. Simon said he had run even faster when I talked to him at the campground again. Crazy!
He was, as expected, lying on his mat outside the tent in the sun reading his science fiction book. And as expected, he had easily found his way back. It was also not unexpected that he announced he was hungry. Simon is a boy with a good appetite. And since I had not been able to buy larger quantities of food as it was Sunday, it was clear that we had to find us a restaurant to eat at. At the reception they had advertised for an eating place, which belonged to the campsite. Good food at reasonable prices, they promised, and we did fancy a place somewhere nearby, so we walked across the campsite to find it. But it could not be on the same side of the main road, as there were tall weeds and noting else. We scared a cat and were afraid that it would run out onto the road, but luckily it disappeared into the weed field. On the other side of the road we found, as it was, the restaurant Schmölzer Wirt, where we found a seat on the outdoor terrasses far corner. It was furthest away from the unloved road and down to the Schwarzenbach, a beautiful mountain stream, which ended in the Loisach just on the other side of the road. It was time to tuck into some food, and so we did. I ordered a local way to serve roast pork on while Simon was brave and ordered beef cheeks. We we ate and ate and it tasted really well, so we sent the waitress in after several chips and roasted potatoes before we felt well fed and tired and staggered out onto the road where I was nearly run down by a car that drove too fast here in a built-up area. But as soon as we had reached the other side of the road before another desperado behind a wheel of a car came speeding down the road. He went so fast through the corner at the bridge over the river, that he had to go well on the opposite lane in order not to be thrown off the tarmac. Fortunately for him, there was no car coming against him. And luckily we had already crossed the road when he came roaring. Well honestly! That road we surely would not end up missing. Back at the campsite sat the two Germans, father and son on motorcycle tour on the tables and benches kit and planned their trip. I sat down with them and we talked again about our experiences. The evening was really lovely, quiet and warm like a summer holiday's evening was meant to be. When it turned dark, we benefited from the light of the containerized reception. Otherwise, there was absolutely no light at the campground, which I really never have experienced before. But of course I found safely up to the toilet building where I brushed my teeth and looked after my watch. I had apparently left it there, when I had a shower the night before and it had not been filed in the container. But everywhere it might be, it was not and I had to realize it had been stolen. Stupid and sad, as it was a Christmas gift from Susanne ! Simon always brushes his teeth beside the tent using water from his bidon. Laziness hooray. Now it was great to snuggle into my sleeping bag. This evening it was nicely quiet, and the campsite had also emptied a lot. Although it is holiday time, Saturday is still busier than Sunday. We soon fell asleep.